Evil (Howlin' Wolf song)

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"Evil Is Goin' On"
Single by Howlin' Wolf
B-side"Baby How Long"
Released1954 (1954)
Format45 rpm record
RecordedChicago, May 25, 1954[1]
GenreChicago blues
Songwriter(s)Willie Dixon
Producer(s)Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon[1]
Howlin' Wolf singles chronology
"Baby How Long"
"Evil Is Goin' On"
"Forty Four"

"Evil", sometimes listed as "Evil (Is Going On)", is a Chicago blues standard written by Willie Dixon.[2] Howlin' Wolf recorded the song for Chess Records in 1954.[3] It was included on the 1959 compilation album Moanin' in the Moonlight. When he re-recorded it for The Howlin' Wolf Album in 1969, "Evil" became Wolf's last charting single, reaching number 43 Billboard R&B chart.[4]

The 1954 song features sidemen Hubert Sumlin and Jody Williams on guitars, Otis Spann on piano, Willie Dixon on double-bass, and Earl Phillips on drums. Wolf achieves a coarse, emotional performance with his strained singing, lapsing into falsetto.[5] The song, a twelve-bar blues, is punctuated with a syncopated backbeat, brief instrumental improvisations, upper-end piano figures, and intermittent blues harp provided by Wolf.[5] The lyrics caution about the "evil" that takes place in a man's home when he is away, concluding with "you better watch your happy home".[5]

The song has been recorded by numerous artists, including: Luther Allison, Canned Heat, Captain Beefheart, Derek and the Dominos, Gary Moore, Cactus, The Faces, Dee Snider (with Widowmaker), Jake E. Lee, Monster Magnet, The Dead Daisies, Steve Miller and Clutch. Koko Taylor's version of the song appeared in the 1987 film Adventures in Babysitting. Tom Jones recorded a version of the song in 2011, produced by Jack White. It includes a snippet of The Doors' "Wild Child". Jace Everett and C. C. Adcock also recorded a version, which was used as the featured song for the third season finale of the HBO series True Blood. Greta Van Fleet also played the song regularly in their concerts in 2017.


  1. ^ a b Chess Blues 1947-1967 (CD liner). Various artists. United States: Chess/MCA Records. 1992. CHD4-9340.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Muddy Waters' "Evil" is a different song, credited to Morganfield aka Waters (1957 Chess 1680)
  3. ^ Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 268. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 198. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
  5. ^ a b c Floyd, Samuel A. (1995). The Power of Black Music. Oxford University Press. pp. 176–177. ISBN 0-19-508235-4.